Best Art Import

JK Russ and Matthew Couper



If the much-anticipated Vegas art scene is going to be fully realized, we need more participants like JK Russ and Matthew Couper. The married couple and professional artists moved from New Zealand to Las Vegas nearly three years ago and have been working diligently ever since. He creates haunting Old World-style oil paintings with biting contemporary insights. She creates colorful mixed-media collages and video installations that explore gender and sexuality. Both show prodigiously in and out of town. And both of their methods now incorporate the iconography of Las Vegas in sly ways. Couper has latched onto the religious aspect of sin in Sin City. And Russ co-opts the showgirl ideal of glamorous women and neo-burlesque, the sexy stuff. (She also blogs about art and culture for the Huffington Post and just became the gallery coordinator of the Contemporary Art Center.) It’s fascinating and flattering to see our world as cranked through two different, yet intimately tied, filters.

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Jason Strauss


Jason Strauss

The tastemaker and nightlife impresario is a partner of Tao Group, a leading restaurant and nightlife company that develops, owns and operates numerous high-profile food and beverage facilities nationwide, including Tao, Lavo and Marquee. Along with his partners, Strauss was named Hospitality Operator of the Year by Nightclub & Bar in 2006, and their work with Marquee has been profiled as a case study by Harvard Business School.